TamilNet reports that the Sri Lanka Army (SLA) launched an indiscriminate artillery barrage into the newly announced ‘safety zone’ on Tuesday killing at least 108 civilians and causing injuries to more than 200, according to initial details from the medical sources in the area.
Every shell that hit the area seemed to have caused casualties, said a doctor at the makeshift hospital at Maaththa’lan.
More than 100,000 people have been forced into a plain and narrow strip along the coast, north of Mullaiththeevu town, without potable water.
Meanwhile, relentless artillery barrage by the SLA has boxed Theavipuram and Va’l’lipunam villages within the old zone, trapping thousands of civilians preventing them from moving to the new ‘safe zone’.
The artillery barrage lasted from 1:00am to 5:00am and targeted Maaththa’lan, Pokka’nai, Mu’l’livaaykkaal within the safety zone and Ira’naippalai.
Meanwhile, Sri Lanka Air Force (SLAF) fighter jets have also attacked Ira’naippaalai, the new centre for humanitarian and basic facilities, located between the new and old safety zones.
On Tuesday, at least 15 people, fleeing from the old ‘safety zone’ towards Maaththa’lan, were killed in an artillery barrage.
‘A news black-out of Sri Lanka government’s slaughter of Tamils through indiscriminate artillery barrage and bombings prevails, while the International media is publishing false information spread by Colombo,’ said Tamil National Alliance (TNA) parliamentary group leader, R. Sampanthan, in a press meeting attended by a large number of local and international journalists on Tuesday afternoon in the Sri Lanka parliamentary complex, sources in Colombo said.
‘More than 2000 Tamils have been killed while more than 4500 injured in Vanni due to the unrelenting attacks by the three armed forces of the Sri Lanka government in the recent past,’ Sampanthan said.
‘This is but a deliberate and systematic genocide of the Tamils,’ he said and added that the bodies of the killed innocent Tamils lie along streets unattended.
Sampanthan pointed out that there is no medicine in Vanni for the people injured in the indiscriminate attacks by the government armed forces.
‘The government spreads false information that the Liberation Tigers are killing the Tamils fleeing the war-zone in Vanni while it is the armed forces of the government which are killing the Tamils in Vanni.
‘Why should the Tigers kill the Tamils who have been living with them all these years?’ he asked.
‘The government does not permit even us, the elected representatives of the Tamils, to visit the Tamils who have come from Vanni and are confined in internment camps in Vavuniyaa,’ he said.
‘The international community should come forward to stop the annihilation of the Tamils by the government of Mahinda Rajapakse,’ Sampanthan appealed.
He also appealed to President Mahinda Rajapakse’s government to stop the war on Tamils immediately.
Sampanthan also appealed to the international journalists to publish verified information from the ground, and to desist taking to print the one-sided information presented by the Sri Lanka government.
• ‘We are deeply sad and puzzled at the attitude of the apex institution of humanity, the United Nations, in not taking effective measures to protect the life, security and interests of innocent Tamil civilians,’ said LTTE’s Political Head B Nadesan on Tuesday.
‘Instead, the UN is engaged in fruitless exercises of accusing the wrong side, without coming and seeing what is happening by themselves,’ he said.
When stopping the war is the need of the hour, allowing it and lamenting civilian sufferings is a faulty policy, Mr Nadesan said, adding that indicting the defensive LTTE and exploiting the plight of civilians for the agenda of those who are waging the war will not bring in any positive results.
Mr Nadesan’s response, when contacted by TamilNet on recent statements of UN Colombo office and the UNICEF, follows:
‘The ongoing war is the cause for all evils and human sufferings about which all sane human beings are concerned.
‘Therefore, the war has to be stopped immediately, paving way for negotiations.
‘The LTTE has not started the war and is always prepared for negotiations.
‘The International agencies and world governments, concerned about the plight of civilians should therefore prevail upon the Sri Lankan government to stop the war.
‘Unfortunately, the International Community is adopting an ironical line of allowing the war and at the same time worrying about the plight of the civilians.
‘The Colombo government verbally says that their war is against the LTTE, but in truth it is fighting a war for complete Tamil subjugation.
‘LTTE has to respond defensively to protect Tamil interests.
‘The policy of double standards of justifying Colombo’s war and worrying about civilian casualties is fundamentally flawed.
‘The UN should work hard to change this faulty equation, which will only help to ensure human life, dignity and assertion of human rights, not only in the conflict zone, but in the entire island.
‘The immediate concerns of the civilians in Vanni are freedom from the fear of attack, medicine, food, potable water and freedom to get back to their villages and homes without fear.
‘The LTTE is in no way acting against these concerns.
‘The UN is very well aware that Colombo is not heeding to the demand of even a temporary truce.
‘It is not allowing the supply of food and medicine. It is herding people to a land where potable water is a scarcity and it is planning to keep the people in concentration camps rather than creating a situation for their return to their villages.
‘Therefore, the UN is accusing the wrong side in addressing the concerns of the people.
‘Another important concern raised by international agencies is the plight of children. LTTE has always been favourably responding to the international concerns in desisting from child-recruitment. We categorically deny recruitment of anyone below the 18-year limit.
‘The ground situation at the moment is death and disabling injury to thousands of children. Malnutrition is another. Above all, the most serious threat is that anyone in their teens is suspected by the Sri Lanka Army and either getting killed or tortured and imprisoned.
‘There is no protection or guarantee from any international agency for the children who get into the hands of hostile Sri Lankan army. Already we come to know that even small children who are admitted in the hospitals are separated from their parents or guardians.
‘If this brutal war and the war psychosis are allowed to prevail upon the people, there could be a situation tragically forcing everyone in the society to respond in order to save themselves.
‘Therefore, the International Community should act immediately with responsibility and with judicious decisions in arresting the ongoing catastrophe to the civilians of Vanni.
‘All concerned are very well aware that the civilians stay in our territory at their own will.
‘This is what pinches the Colombo government which is bent on taking every effort to terrorise, inflict death and injury, and deny essentials of life in order to capture them.
‘In the process, the Colombo government doesn’t hesitate in deliberately and extensively using even prohibited weapons such as firebombs and cluster bombs on civilian targets.
‘The international agencies and media adopt a faulty diplomatic policy that whenever they want to come out with any criticism of Colombo government, they first attack the LTTE at length and finally come up with their point against the Colombo government.
‘This appeasement doesn’t work well in handling the ongoing crisis and the international community has to come out in no uncertain terms in their indictments and effective action against the Colombo government.